Briefing book - Internal Trade - 2021

[ * ] An asterisk appears where sensitive information has been removed in accordance with the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act.

Part A: Welcome to Internal Trade

1. Overview - Internal Trade

Internal trade is an essential element of the Canadian economy. It can support economic competitiveness by creating jobs, helping businesses expand, enhancing consumer choice, and increasing Canada’s overall economic growth.

Since the Canada Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) came into force in 2017, achievements have been made on the file, but progress has been incremental. Part A.2 includes a list of actions to date.

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Stakeholders continue to push federal, provincial, territorial (FPT) governments to do more to reduce barriers and strengthen trade in key economic sectors, particularly given the challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic on the Canadian economy and the growing global sentiment of protectionism. A key list of internal trade stakeholders is attached at Part A.3.

There are limited unilateral federal levers to advance the internal trade file. Collaboration with PT partners is critical to ensuring meaningful progress and successfully advancing trade liberalization, both through the existing Agreement and new commitments.

Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA)

The CFTA, which replaced the 1995 Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT), includes all FPT governments. The CFTA covers nearly every sector of the economy, providing a comprehensive set of trade rules to facilitate trade in goods, services, investment and labour mobility within Canada.


The CFTA is a consensus-based agreement and requires the support of all 14 FPT ministers of the Committee on Internal Trade (CIT) to amend or operationalize elements of the Agreement.

The CFTA also established a number of forward-looking working groups and committees, including the Trade in Alcoholic Beverages Working Group, Regulatory Reconciliation and Cooperation Table and the Northern Foods Working Group.

Your role as Minister for Internal Trade

As Minister responsible for Internal Trade, you are responsible for advocating for improved trade between PTs, are a member of the FPT CIT Ministerial table, and oversee the implementation of Canada’s commitments under the CFTA.

As the federal CIT Minister, engaging with PTs, as well as other key federal ministers (e.g., Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Finance Canada, Treasury Board) is critical to advancing the file and addressing elements of the ongoing priority areas outlined in Part B.

Stakeholders and industry often look to the federal CIT Minister for support and leadership to address trade barriers and accelerate action.

Committee on Internal Trade (CIT)

The CIT, comprised of all FPT ministers responsible for internal trade, is responsible for supervising the implementation of the CFTA, including providing oversight over a number of CFTA working groups, assisting in the resolution of disputes, approving the annual operating budget of the Internal Trade Secretariat (ITS), and considering any other matter that may affect the operation of the CFTA.

The ITS, an FPT intergovernmental affairs body located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, provides administrative and operational support to the CFTA and CIT Ministers.

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The federal objectives under the CIT are to:

The CIT meets annually. The last CIT meeting was hosted virtually in September 2020. British Columbia is the 2021 CIT chair, and Yukon will become chair in 2022. The chair rotates annually between all 14 parties, including the federal government, as set out in the CFTA. The federal government last chaired the CIT in 2013.

The next meeting of the CIT is expected to be held virtually on December 13, 2021.

In advance of next CIT meeting, additional information, including items for decision and federal positions, will be provided in advance.

Regulatory Reconciliation and Cooperation Table (RCT)

The RCT is a committee of senior-level FPT officials that provides a forum for governments to resolve existing barriers to trade resulting from differing regulations and to collaborate on the development of common regulatory measures for emerging sectors or issues. First Ministers appoint senior officials. For the Government of Canada, this position is held by the Assistant Deputy Minister of Regulatory Affairs at Treasury Board Secretariat.

Each FPT government can add items for reconciliation or cooperation on the RCT work plan. Working groups are created for each item and are responsible for developing a Reconciliation Agreement (RA). The RA details how the barrier to trade will be addressed, names of participating governments, and the timelines for its implementation. Parties may opt out of these negotiations if they wish.

To date, 10 RAs have been completed, and 20 items remain on the work plan.

The federal objectives are to encourage the RCT to:

2. Actions to date

The federal government has demonstrated leadership in advancing the internal trade file by removing regulatory and other barriers in areas such as transportation (e.g., trucking), food, alcohol and construction (i.e., National Building Codes).

Fall Economic Statement 2018 announced the Government’s intent to work with PT partners to accelerate action to remove regulatory and other barriers in four areas:

At the First Ministers Meeting in December 2018, First Ministers agreed to accelerate the work to address domestic barriers to trade, and committed to:

The federal government has taken several additional actions to enhance internal trade, including:

FPT collaboration also led to significant achievements, including:

The Government of Canada actively participated on the various CFTA working groups throughout 2020 and 2021, to work towards advancing the trade in alcohol file and negotiations on both financial services and non-medical cannabis.

Through Budget 2021, the federal government committed to allocate $21 million to strengthen FPT capacity to reduce internal trade barriers within Canada in order to:

In August 2021, the Government of Canada also enhanced its commitments in the CFTA by making:

3. Key internal trade stakeholders

Business Council of Canada
Goldy Hyder, President & CEO

Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Perrin Beatty, President and CEO

Canadian Federation of Independent Business
Dan Kelly, CEO

Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters
Dennis Darby, President & CEO

Conference Board of Canada
Susan Black, President and CEO

C.D. Howe Institute
William Robson, CEO

Canada West Foundation
Gary G. Mar, President and CEO

Montreal Economic Institute
Michel Kelly-Gagnon, President and CEO

4. Provincial and territorial contacts

Provincial and territorial - Committee on Internal Trade Ministers

The Honourable Jason Kenney
Premier of Alberta
Office of the Premier
307 Legislature Building
10800 – 97th Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6
Phone: (780) 427-2251
Fax: (780) 427-1349

British Columbia (Chair)
The Honourable George Chow
Minister of State for Trade
Room 027, Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8W 9A8
Phone: (250) 387-9139
Fax: (250) 387-9146

The Honourable Jon Reyes
Minister of Economic Development and Jobs
Room 358, Legislative Building
450 Broadway
Winnipeg, MB R3C 0V8
Phone: (204) 945-0067

The Honourable Victor Fedeli
Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
College Park, 18th Floor
777 Bay Street
Toronto, ON M7A 1S5
Phone: (416) 720-4139

Northwest Territories
The Honourable Caroline Wawzonek
Minister of Finance
Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment
Minister Responsible for the Status of Women
2nd Floor, Legislative Assembly
P.O. Box 1320
Yellowknife, NT X1A 2L9
Phone: (867) 767-9141 ext. 11130
Fax: (867) 873-0385

Newfoundland and Labrador
The Honourable Andrew Furey
Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador
The Office of the Premier
Confederation Building, East Block
P.O. Box 8700
St. John’s, NL A1B 4J6
Phone: (709) 729-3570
Fax: (709) 729-5875

The Honourable David Akeeagok
Minister of Economic Development and Transportation
Building 1104A, Inuksugait Plaza
P.O. Box 1000, Station 1510
Iqaluit, NU X0A 0H0
Phone: (867) 975-7800
Fax: (867) 975-7870

Nova Scotia
The Honorable Tim Houston
Premier of Nova Scotia
Office of the Premier
7th Floor, One Government Place
1700 Granville Street
Halifax, NS B3J 1X5
Phone: (902) 424-6600
Fax: (902) 424-7648

New Brunswick
The Honourable Blaine Higgs
Premier of New Brunswick
Chancery Place
P.O. Box 6000
Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1
Phone : (506) 453-2144
Fax : (506) 453-7407

Prince Edward Island
The Honourable Matthew MacKay
Minister of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture
105 Rochford Street
Shaw Building, 5th Floor North
P.O. Box 2000
Charlottetown, PEI C1A 7N8
Phone: (902) 368-4230
Fax: (902) 620-3726

The Honourable Éric Girard
Minister of Finance
Minister of Economy and Innovation
390 Charest Est Boulevard
Québec, QC G1K 3H4
Telephone: (418) 643-5270
Fax: (418) 646-1574

The Honourable Jeremy Harrison
Minister of Trade and Export Development
Room 346, Legislative Building,
2405 Legislative Drive
Regina, SK S4S 0B3
Phone: (306) 787-8687
Fax: (306) 787-7977

The Honourable Ranj Pillai
Minister of Economic Development
Yukon Government Administration Building
2071 Second Avenue
P.O. Box 2703
Whitehorse, YK Y1A 2C6
Phone: (867) 393-7418
Fax: (867) 393-7135


Part B: Your first 100 days

1. Early decision points and priorities for implementation


There are several key internal trade work streams underway that represent a comprehensive 2021 strategic plan to advance internal trade. The roadmap outlining these work streams is attached in Part B.2. Elements of these work streams require critical decisions in order to accelerate action, including the implementation of Budget 2021 commitments on internal trade.

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To ensure that the federal government is well positioned in the coming months on the file to advance its own suite of initiatives (e.g., Budget 2021), PCO-IGA will work closely with your office to advance these policy files. A proposed briefing plan is attached in Part B.3.

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Implement Budget 2021 commitments

Objective: [ * ]

Through Budget 2021, the Government announced a suite of actions on internal trade to build positive momentum on the file.

Budget 2021 proposed to allocate $21 million over three years to reduce trade barriers in Canada, helping build a more prosperous economy. Specifically, the Budget included the following commitments:

  1. Work with provincial and territorial partners to enhance the capacity of the Internal Trade Secretariat that supports the Canadian Free Trade Agreement in order to accelerate the reduction of trade barriers within Canada.
  2. Advance work with willing partners towards creating a repository of open and accessible pan-Canadian internal trade data to identify barriers, including licensing and professional certification requirements, so that we can work together to reduce them.
  3. Pursue internal trade objectives through new or renewed discretionary federal transfers to provinces and territories.

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To implement this process, PCO-IGA will work closely with your office to confirm on overall approach.

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Objective: [ * ]

Each FPT government is allowed to maintain exclusions (known as Party-Specific Exceptions) to obligations in the Agreement to protect their sensitive policy space (e.g., alcohol, energy). These exceptions are often criticised by governments and stakeholders. Specifically, federal exceptions are often viewed as being overly broad and restrictive despite being important in maintaining existing FPT agreements in key sectors (e.g., oil and gas accords), Canada’s international trade agreements, and national security considerations.

In August 2021, the Government of Canada notified the Internal Trade Secretariat of the removal and narrowing of several federal exceptions in the CFTA. [ * ] it demonstrated the federal government’s desire to enhance its level of ambition on the file.

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Objective: [ * ]

[ * ] A more detailed briefing will follow under a separate cover.

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Objective: [ * ]

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In order to implement federal commitments under the CFTA, [ * ]

2. Internal Trade roadmap

Work streams Objective Approach (phases) Outcomes
1. Implementation of Budget 2021 commitments [ * ]
  1. Engage PTs: Start a conversation on trade priorities and secure partners for implementation.
  2. Develop Implementation and Policy Options: options will be informed by engagement with PTs.
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Budget Announcement (April 2021- Complete)

Develop Policy Options through FPT Engagement on Budget 2021 (Fall 2021)

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2. Alcohol liberalization Government of Canada partnership with willing provinces and territories [ * ] to allow direct-to-consumer (DTC) alcohol sales.
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  2. Engage with Federal Partners: build model for federal support and identify next steps, including critical path (in development).

Seek Coalition of willing PTs (Fall 2021)

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3. Strengthen the CFTA [ * ] [ * ] [ * ]
4. Labour mobility: Credential recognition efforts [ * ] [ * ] [ * ]
5. Identify further priorities: Stakeholder engagement Identify further priorities through stakeholder engagement and establish federal governance on internal trade to accelerate efforts. [ * ]

Establish Federal ADM Governance and Identify Additional Priorities (Fall 2021)

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Committee on Internal Trade (Fall 2021)

3. Key policy files: Follow-up briefings

There are a number of key policy files carried over from the previous internal trade mandate and new initiatives announced as part Budget 2021 and include important intergovernmental dimensions. Federal-provincial-territorial considerations can have significant repercussions in the development and implementation of policy and programmatic initiatives.

You will be briefed on the background, status and intergovernmental implications of these policy files separately.

Proposed briefings:

Part C: Provincial and territorial landscape

Provinces and territories (PTs) continue to work towards strengthening internal trade within Canada and removing barriers that impact the economy as a whole, although the level of ambition varies between jurisdictions.


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1. Provincial and territorial landscape

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2. Provincial and territorial map

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